Ill Considered first appeared on a crowded U.K. jazz scene just over a year ago, and quickly set themselves apart with their prolific output, their emotive sound, and their improvisational approach to recording. Their latest album, Ill Considered 5—their fifth in two years, and one of two new albums this month—was created during a studio session in London. The band built the compositions around sketches and themes, with each musician feeding off the energy musical cues of the other to build self-contained sonic worlds, rich in mystery, sensuality, mischief, and darkness. The songs are driven by a wide percussive palette, drawing on everything from traditional syncopation to Middle Eastern-style drumming. It’s frenetic and subtle in equal measures, and an impressive canvas for the soft wail of the saxophone, the low-but-strong hum of the bass clarinet, and the staccato ripples of both the electric and the upright bass.
The group’s strength is generating a wide range of emotions from two extremes: minimalism, and the wild experimentation that incorporates elements of electronic music. On the melancholy album opener “Calling,” the percussion, sax, and bass seem to execute a kind of tentative slow dance. Album standout “Incandescent Rage” begins with a haunting, minor key conversation between saxophone and bass clarinet, but explodes into a jungle-meets-drone composition that could easily soundtrack a car chase in a noir film. All of these elements work together to create an album that demands attention—music swathed in dense atmosphere, and as alive as the most vivid of dreams.